The way ahead for IEC CAB
In 2017, the IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) celebrated its 20th anniversary. CAB is responsible for the management and supervision of all IEC conformity assessment (CA) activities, including oversight of the four IEC CA Systems: IECEE, IECEx, IECQ and IECRE.
Recently, CAB has set up new groups to address current and future challenges:
Identifying future business opportunities
Market demand for conformity assessment services is growing. The challenge is and will be to respond in a timely, efficient and cost-effective way to new CA needs. CAB has put in place a business radar that aims to identify and track incoming needs for global CA services from different market sectors. An ad hoc group, ahG BizL, was created in June 2016 and tasked with creating an initial list of potential new services and sectors, with priorities for submission to CAB in June 2017. Its role is to propose rules, procedures and systematic methods to determine priorities for bringing new CA services online quickly and efficiently. The work of the ahG is expected to be completed by June 2018.
CAB Working Group (WG) 17: Cyber security, has initiated a joint development with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) for a new Common Regulatory Objective (CRO) similar to the one developed with IECEx and published in 2011. The objective of this UN document will be to describe a “world best practice process for a system’s approach to conformity assessment for cyber security”, which will be a comprehensive but generic process that can be applied to any technical system. For the time being, operational CA work on cyber security is concentrated within IECEE, which recently launched a global CA Scheme for cyber security based on the IEC 62443 series of standards on network and system security of industrial communication networks, suitable for most critical infrastructure cyber security needs.
Focus on training
Training has always been an important topic for the IEC. Several initiatives are either underway or already in place to support the IEC community.
In December 2017, the IEC launched the IEC Academy project, whose purpose is to provide high quality training and make it more frequent, predictable and accessible for the entire IEC community.
The IEC Academy will facilitate training workshops in Geneva and in national locations. It will also train local trainers, so that they may hold local workshops. It will make e-learning material available on a centralized platform, and will also make extensive use of internet web-conferencing technology in order to conduct regular, scheduled and frequent webinars. All of this will allow more members of the IEC community to participate in training events, even multiple times if desired, as some webinars will be repeated throughout the year and e-learning material will always be available.
The first set of services started in January 2018 with monthly webinars on the IEC website.
IECEx – Training for the CoPC
To meet Ex industry needs and ensure that all safety aspects have been covered, IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres, launched the IECEx Certificate of Personnel Competence (CoPC) Scheme in early 2010. It provides companies working in the Ex field with independent proof that a person has the required competence and capability (based on qualifications, experience and demonstrated ability) to implement the International Ex Standards and to work on, or repair, equipment located in hazardous areas.
The CoPC complements the other IECEx Schemes – IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme and IECEx Certified Service Facilities Scheme – to ensure that equipment and people working in the Ex field operate in the safest possible conditions.
In 2015, to assist applicants in their preparation for the CoPC, IECEx launched the IECEx Recognized Training Provider (RTP) programme for organizations that have specific programmes in support of IEC International Standards and the IECEx System. These RTPs provide candidates with knowledge and understanding on the terminology and protection concepts for electrical equipment used in explosive atmospheres, based on the IEC 60079 series of International Standards. They cover theoretical and practical assessments and assist candidates in selecting and preparing for the relevant units of competence.
The Affiliate Country Programme launched ACAS, the Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status, in 2013 to raise awareness and provide developing countries with a better understanding of the specific requirements linked to conformity assessment (CA) activities.
As part of ACAS, e-learning modules were created to help further affiliates’ understanding of and involvement in IEC CA activities. Four ACAS e-learning modules are now available on the IEC website, covering IECEE, IECEx, IECQ and IECRE. A final set of modules on global quality infrastructure is expected to be online in 2018.
ACAS capacity building events
Within the ACAS framework, regional seminars help raise awareness on IEC CA Systems and activities. These gatherings are a great opportunity for experts to reach out to stakeholders in the region, provide an overview of IEC activities and focus on the IEC Systems and the ACAS e-learning courses.
These seminars are jointly organized by the IEC and partner regional organizations, such as the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) in Latin America or the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC) in Africa. National standards development organizations are regularly collaborating in these events. Over the years, PTB, the German National Metrology Institute (PTB - Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt) has also been a trusted partner.
In 2017, two seminars were held, one in Africa in January – the AFSEC ACAS Regional Seminar in Nairobi, Kenya – and one in Latin America in November – the IEC ACAS-COPANT-PTB regional seminar in Lima, Peru.
IECQ – Greener components
The considerable increase in the production of electronic components adds to the pressure on manufacturers to produce components that are not only cheaper and smarter, but also “cleaner”.
Efficient production of hazardous substance-free products
The IECQ Hazardous Substance Process Management (IECQ HSPM) is a technically-based management systems approach to implementing and maintaining hazardous substance-free products and production processes. IECQ HSPM was developed in response to component manufacturers’ need to give suppliers the means of demonstrating, through third-party assessment, that their electrical and electronic components and assemblies meet specific hazardous substance-free (HSF) local, national and international requirements. Many companies today are working to attain IECQ HSPM Certification to IECQ QC 080000.
Advantages of using IECQ QC 80000
The fourth edition, published in May 2017, clarifies how organizations can use IECQ QC 080000 to manage their hazardous substances other than through the outright removal of restricted substances and avoiding their use in products.
There are numerous advantages in using the 4th edition of IECQ QC 080000. Among them:
• adaptation to global hazardous substances legislation. For example, additional controlled substances, change control, product recall, as specified by the REACH regulation, the information communication within the supply chain, and notification to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) about substances of very high concern (SVHC);
• enhancement of documented information requirements in response to the applicable statutory and regulatory obligations. For example, requirements in the re-casted RoHS such as compliance assessment, preparation of technical file, preparation of self-declaration, use of markings, etc. can now be managed through IECQ QC 080000.
The new edition also aligns with ISO 9001:2015, Quality management systems – Requirements, and has adopted ISO Annex SL defining the new high level structure for all ISO management systems standards.
IECQ QC 80000 is available on the IEC Webstore in English, French, Korean, Russian, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.
New edition of ISO/IEC 17025
Since the publication of its first edition in 1999, ISO/IEC 17025 has become the international reference for calibration and testing laboratories around the world. The Standard, developed by ISO Committee of Conformity Assessment (CASCO), circulated for voting to the national bodies of IEC and ISO and approved by both organizations, contains requirements for laboratories to enable them to demonstrate they operate competently and are able to generate valid results.
The third edition, published in November 2017, takes into account the numerous changes in market conditions that have occurred since 2005, when the second edition was issued. For instance, the Standard focuses on information technology, with a new section devoted to the use of computer systems and electronic records, as well as the production of electronic results and reports. The publication also puts the emphasis on the results of a process rather than on a detailed description of its tasks and steps.
The updated edition has also adopted a new structure, in alignment with the other Standards in the ISO/IEC 17000 series for conformity assessment. The 2005 edition was split into two main sections – Management and Technical requirements. The 2017 version has five sections: General, Structural, Resource, Process and Management. A clause in the Management requirement section addresses risks and opportunities associated with laboratory activities, a first in the history of ISO/IEC 17025.
For more on ISO/IEC 17025:2017, please visit the IEC Webstore
IECEE – Token of gratitude
In October 2017, at the CAB meeting in Vladivostok during the IEC General Meeting, IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, presented a new initiative for the recognition of IECEE leadership: the “Leadership Recognition Certificate” to acknowledge subgroup leaders, convenors and all those who put in a lot of effort and work for the IECEE, in evenings and on weekends, often as a second job.